Posts Tagged ‘Life’

What’s Next?

          Recently I was having a phone conversation with a business acquaintance only to find out that he had spent his holidays unexpectedly caring for his terminally ill father, a situation that is lingering on. We talked at some length about how his dad had developed mesothelioma from his time spent on a submarine back in the fifties. It was quite moving to hear this man reminisce about his dad’s life as I could sense the anguish in his heart as he considered the status of his father’s life. Mesthelioma is a slow developing disease and apparently it catches it’s victims by surprise and then it is too late to do anything about it.

          At times such as this reality sets in and we come to see that life is short. We come face to face with our own mortality. Then what? These two words strike at the essence of our being. What’s next, what’s it all about, is this all there is? These are sobering considerations that none can escape. They can be shoved aside and rejected or we can make an uninformed decision based upon what we would like to believe or how we think things really are. Decisions such as these are often made without much consideration or depth of understanding. Truthfully, far too many Christians have spent too little effort studying the basis for what they believe. We live in a time and culture that tends to easily accept or reject things with little basis to depend on. Doesn’t it make sense that we would reasonably pursue the truth about eternity with greater zeal than we would apply to anything else in this world? After all, eternity is a long time. It’s particularly a long time for anyone who might get it wrong.

          The problem arises when we try to affix quick answers or decide such matters from the logical perspective. Actually, I can present compelling logistics for the accuracy of the Bible as well as for the biblical historical record it presents. The trouble is that logic will not and cannot get the job done. What logic can do is arouse your sense of the possibilities. It can get your attention. It can make you wonder but facts alone cannot lead you to believe in the existence of God or eternal life. This can only be accomplished by divine revelation, which is an act of the supernatural. Think how foolish it is to judge matters of supernatural proportion by the limitations of the natural mind. Those who know can attest to actual knowledge of the transformation that takes place when a person receives and accepts the call of God. From the outside looking in it appears as foolishness but to the one who truly possesses the experience there’s no desire to ever turn back.

          We can easily miss the truth of God by false understandings of who He is. We can claim to be “good” as a justification for our life or we can dismiss God altogether because He doesn’t make sense. We can chose to believe anything we want about Him but there can be only one truth. The truth is, He is willing to reveal Himself to anyone who earnestly seeks Him. He will not always change your circumstances but He is always willing to change your perception of them. It is truly amazing when God gives you a new perspective and your whole world changes when physically nothing has changed at all. Knowing the one true God through the life offered by His Son is the only way to resolve the question of life that ultimately asks, what’s next?

I Just Want To Be Happy…

        ss35450qf7  Most of us have uttered this lament from time to time. Happiness seems to be the illusive goal of just about every person I know yet rarely do I meet a truly happy person. Webster defines happiness as “a state of well being or contentment”. It is often associated with prosperity or good fortune. Quite possibly it is an expectation that most of us have regarding our life and our perception of what it should be like. Happiness is often a momentary and fleeting experience that fuels our desire to pursue it all the more. Our “Declaration of Independence” echoes this basic tenant of human rights; “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Rooted in biblical belief, our founding fathers believed that the “pursuit of happiness” was directly connected to our creation and a God given right of every individual. Therefore, if we have any shot at discovering happiness in this life is it possible that we can do so apart from the One who created us? What was God’s first desire in the order of creation, for us to be happy or holy? Can we truly be happy without being holy or does happiness exist as a by-product of being holy?

          The “pursuit of holiness” should be first and foremost in our minds. Holiness means to be “set-apart” for God. The implication is that God’s plan for us should be of the highest priority and all other desires in our life should be subordinate. One of the greatest deceptions in this life is that we can order our lives according to our own personal view and desires, then we will be ready for a deeper walk with God. We mistakenly substitute our appetites as the means to gain happiness. How many times have we acted on a want (sometimes to our financial detriment) only to find that the joy didn’t last as long as the term of the monthly payments? How often have we mistaken the true meaning of life for an identity produced by a career or the things we own – status? In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the man who tore down his barns and built new ones in order to store an overabundance of crops. The man reveled in his status of security and his view that he would be happy for years to come. Jesus declared him a fool as he would die that very day and leave it all behind. In verse 23 Jesus states, “life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

          What is the relationship between happiness and contentment? In Phil.4:11 Paul declares”…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”. He applied this principle to abundance and poverty, his contentment was not affected by his circumstance. It was a “learned” responce to life, an ordering of the inner world rather than the outer experience. When we are discontent with the experiences of life we cannot be happy. “But Godliness with contentment is great gain”. (1Tim.6:8, NIV) Could that great gain include happiness?

          As the future continues to unfold in front of us revealing the perilous and uncertain times in which we live, it is vital for all of us to discover the true nature of happiness. It lies not in the shallow desires that please our senses but rather in the possession of relationship with the One who created us. Consumerism and marketing tries to convince us of our constant need to fulfill our quest for happiness by purchasing an endless array of products, pills and adventures. Consumerism thrives on the insatiable desires of the flesh, perhaps exploiting our longing for heaven on earth. As the rights suggested in the Declaration of Independence are facing the possibility of extinction in the near future, are we prepared to handle the changes coming our way? The only answer I can come up with is to be happy. Not as the world sees happiness but in the power of true happiness. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35)